Physical distancing, stocking up on sanitizers, soap washes, masks and gloves, hoarding supplies, limiting travel, working from home maybe the new normal in being seen as responsible citizens. But pause, take a deep breath and ask yourself- what about the sanitation workers, pourakarmikas, waste pickers and other informal waste collectors and recyclers, who are in the front line managing waste, to keep our cities clean? There is an urgent need to be conscious of the work they do, and services they offer.

Picture Credit: Hasiru Dala

There is a critical need for us to realize that we have to be inclusive in fighting the pandemic and in situations like these the best thing that you can do “segregate your waste”.

1. Read up about the right way to segregate your waste from the 2bin1 bag website (https://www.2bin1bag.in/). Ensure three- way segregation of waste at source. Take time to rinse out your soiled plastic or beverage cans and take away boxes, yes including the sachets, pizza/cake boxes. Everything.

2. Dispose the masks, gloves, and tissues that you are using in sanitary waste separately. It must be wrapped in a newspaper bag and clearly specified. (Think twice about using disposable wet wipes, as it is known to clog drains).

3. Make sure the sanitary worker/waste picker is aware of the contents in the bag.

4. It will not hurt for you to spend a few minutes to engage with the waste workers and donate personal protective equipment such as gloves and face/eye/mouth protection, if they are not using or haven’t been given. ( Also ensure that they area ware of cleaning the PPE tools)

5. Do not dump waste, in case your missed the pick up.

6. There much debate on this, but it is better to be safe and go the sustainable way and shun the single use plastic. (In a paper that has not yet been peer-reviewed, National Institute of Health scientists analyzed the new corona virus, researchers tracked the virus’ viability on different surfaces and the longevity of staying on plastics, card board, steels etc vary. You are better off, with something that can be washed and sterilized , than disposed right?) https://www.mercurynews.com/…/coronavirus-can-live-on-plas…/

6. Lastly, if you show symptoms or have traveled recently and are waiting for results, please do not leave waste unsupervised for collection. Be proactive and inform the BBMP.

Remember the waste workers are playing a crucial role, we can help them by being responsible.

Picture Credit: Pinky Chandran